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MATTERS OF FACT

Comforting Munchies

"Healthful comfort foods"
By: Yolanda ArzagaComforting Munchies

Comfort foods are not necessarily bad according to Janet Tomiyama, a self-confessed “huge foodie” and a health psychologist who investigates the intersection between eating behavior, psychological stress, and health. In one study, Tomiyama and two other colleagues discovered that comfort food can really lower the physiological and psychological effects of stress.

The term “healthful comfort food” may be an oxymoron to those who associate the term solely with fast food or “junk food.” But there are comfort foods that are in fact beneficial. For example, yogurt has a healthy amount of probiotics, the “good” bacteria your body needs in your digestive tract, and it also helps prevent osteoporosis because of the calcium content. So if you’re yogurt freak, go right on; it’s good for you.

Even a predilection for chocolate may not be necessarily bad. A 2011 study published in the Journal of Nutrition reveals that anti-oxidants found in cocoa may help release fat and reduce “degeneration of the arteries” in the heart.

And if your comfort food is on the cheesy side, note that cheese is a dairy product. Thus, you can take comfort in the findings of one study of the University of Tennessee which show that eating three servings of dairy a day significantly reduces body fat in obese people. And dairy is one of the best sources of calcium, another fat releaser.

If you’re nutty about nuts, go ahead—they’re packed with fat releasing unsaturated fats, filling fiber (another fat releaser), and many other healthful nutrients.

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